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Challenge 4: Department of the Treasury


The challenge - The sharing economy, how will it change social and economic interactions. What does it mean for the role of government?

From Airbnb, to Uber, to Freecycle, to eBay and beyond: platforms are the new black. It's never been easier to link people who want to buy and sell, or swap, or just give away a good or service. Under-used assets from houses down to jars of spice are being matched with people who want them, in a few clicks and across continents. What the next platforms will connect is anybody's guess.

What are the opportunities for government, from the technological advances in linking people with shared interests together?

And how should government respond to the rise of platforms? The more people are on them, the better the platforms work. But should we worry whether this means there will be one platform to rule them all, and if so what should the rules be for how that platform operates? Or will platforms continue to rise and fall, and today's Facebook is just tomorrow's Myspace?


This is a wide ranging question but try not to get side tracked on to related issues like the speed of the news cycle, big data, connectivity and infrastructure.


Your response should look at whether there are opportunities for government to leverage platforms, and the technology underlying the peer to peer economy, to better deliver services and improve outcomes for Australians.

Your response should also look at how society should balance the advantages and risks of the sharing economy, platforms and networks, including linking, supporting new interactions, creating new opportunities, privacy, market power and social power.


The Department of the Treasury is a respected and influential central economic agency which advises Government across five key policy areas: Fiscal, Markets, Macroeconomic, Structural Reform and Revenue.

In formulating your response, you could take a look at the Productivity Commission's June 2016 research paper "Digital disruption: what do Governments need to do?" and this article by Jonathan Taplin from the New York Times.

Any key media publications, news programs and other data sources that are relevant to your reflections on what the sharing economy and related technologies mean for the role of government.

Last reviewed: 
13 May 2018